It’s been some time since I started going to school, at the tender age of six, at Horden Hall in Moose Factory in the early ‘sixties. I was a model student and getting into trouble only a few times a year, like setting off the fire extinguisher in grade four at St. Phillips or faking my book report in Grade ten (I got an A for that). Then the big day arrived and we left for Hull, Quebec, to do Secondary V. I lost all sense of educational values and opted for the city lights instead of studying. I knew everything, of course, and did all my homework before going home and my landlady stopped pressuring me to do my homework, because I’d take off for Ottawa.
This hampered my education process somewhat because by the end of the school year and around exam time I didn’t pass the written and oral French exams and had to return in the fall to redo them, and still couldn’t pass the oral tests. I then continued my life by entering CEGEP and taking a stab at University, but that elusive 3 credits for French was needed for passing. Apparently, I needed some English credits too.
About twenty years later, after forgetting about school and working hard at surviving, I rediscovered those missing credits and decided to get it over with once and for all. I studied at home and went and did my exam in the office of the principal of Sabtuan, Guy Mercier. I wrote and spoke French and submitted my twenty page thesis on the life and style of Steve Urkel of Family Matters, which was my assignment for the year. It was by far the hardest assignment in my life, having to watch Urkel and his senseless antics for nine months. Having to watch television as part of schooling somehow took the fun out of the show.
I did pass with flying colours and actually got to partake in my graduation at the tender age of thirty five. I never ever did see any of my other classmates throughout that year and I wondered who they were. I went and rented a tuxedo for the day and everyone thought I looked like a million bucks, but I could see that they needed glasses.
I think that graduation day is special for everyone who goes through that process.
Now I can say that I know how you feel when you receive your diploma. I feel a little bad for waiting that long to get it, but it was worth it.
Life is full of exams, tests and learning experiences. For example, I have to do the first written driving exam of my life and I admit, I’m a little nervous. I remember when I got my driver’s license by going to the police station in Fort George and asking for a form to fill out. Forty five dollars and six weeks later, I got my drivers license. I could drive! Legally! The only problem was, Fort George is an island and there weren’t any roads leaving town. I can safely say that I can still get out of any sandpit, hole, deep snow drift and drive off road with a one wheel drive vehicle due to those years of driving around Fort George.
Then the ice bridge was created, during the winter months, to access the James Bay highway, which ended at Kanamskach where I drove for the first time on pavement. I remember renting my uncle’s car one fine summer day and crossing the river by ferry and driving down past LG-2 and its formidable gate, where you had to have a pass with your picture on it. One of my aunts, who came for the ride, pointed out the speed limits of 100 km/h. I was driving an older vehicle that had only miles per hour indicated and wasn’t really too familiar with the metric system, so I slowly sped up to a hundred miles per hour. I continued at the same pace all the way to Val d’Or and I have to admit, I never did get to drive at that speed ever again on a highway in Quebec. I don’t think I’ll share that story with my driving instructor during my exam.
Whatever exam, trial or tribune one must go through in life, just do the best you can and even if you make mistakes, how else are you going to learn. And for all those older geezers who used to be in my class, don’t give up either at getting your high school diploma, because I tell you, it’s worth it.